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Do I need a house survey to buy a house?

If you are buying a second-hand home, the quick answer is yes.


Think of it this way. If you were buying a second-hand car for €300,000 or €400,000, would you hire a mechanic to come and check it out first? Of course, you would!

The mechanic will know all of the most common issues to look out for and will be able to identify if the car has been properly maintained. Even if it is shiny and red and sexy on the outside, the engine may be run into the ground and on the way out.


When it comes to second-hand property sales in Ireland, there is zero buyer protection. Once the contract is signed and the keys are handed over, the property and all of its flaws are yours. If the house fell down the next week, you would have no comeback to the person who sold it to you.


Just like a mechanic is an expert on everything to do with a car, a surveyor is an expert on everything to do with a property, including the building, maintenance, and fixing. Even if there are just a few small issues with the property, you need an expert to check these out and give you peace of mind. 

Do I need a house survey or a snag list? 

This is a really common question, especially for first-time buyers. The quick answer is; If you are buying a new build, you need a snag list and if you are buying a second-hand home, you need a house survey.


What's the difference?


Snag List: New Builds

With a snag list, the surveyor is "snagging" the new home to ensure everything is in good condition and the property meets health and safety standards before the builder hands it over to you. For a new build, the builders will provide certificates of compliance for all of the work which has recently been complete and there is no "wear and tare" on the property.


A snag list, will involve a list of all of the finish issues which the builder had missed along with a comment on any health and safety conditions not met (e.g. no vents, windows not opening fully, etc.)


House Survey: Second Hand Properties

In addition to finish issues and health and safety issues, when it comes to a second-hand home, the home has been lived in, and depending on how well it was looked after by previous owners will be in various conditions throughout. A surveyor is an expert on the build, maintenance, and repair of residential properties and will know exactly what to look for so they can compline a report on the overall condition of the property.


As older properties may not have certificates of compliance and may have been altered since the original build, the surveyor will also be able to advise if you should engage an electrician, plumber, etc.